Recently it was International Women’s Day (March 8th) and I didn’t get around to finishing this story in time for the day but in homage to International Women’s Day here is my story Sometimes It’s Hard To Be A Woman centred around my two main characters Elizabeth and Natasha as well as their love interests Mike and Anthony. Enjoy. Belated Happy Women’s Day! 🙂
The cafe was quiet. No atmosphere, thought Elizabeth as she nursed her coffee. But perfect for the reunion of her and her best friend Natasha who had recently moved flats to attend college as a mature student. Over the six months since she had left they had lost contact and had a lot to catch up on.
“How’s Anthony?”, Elizabeth asked as Natasha sat down across from her.
“Well dead to me. No, to Spain.”
“So you two are in a long-distance relationship then?”
“No, we broke up. He wanted me to just drop everything and go to Spain with him. To quote he said ‘Why don’t you drop that little course of yours and let me look after you?’ It took me ages to find that little course. But forget my lack of love life. How’s Mike?”
“Oh brilliant … He’s got a great job in insurance.”
“How’s the acting going?”
“I gave it up. There’s only so much you can do in amateur productions.”
Natasha raised an eyebrow.
“But you were making ok of money with those amateur productions. And you loved doing all the shows around the area.”
“Well I had to grow up sometime.”
“Well if that’s growing up maybe it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.”, Natasha smiled but Elizabeth knew that what she really meant was it was crazy to make yourself unhappy.
“You think this isn’t what I want?”
“I didn’t say that. I haven’t seen you in six months since moving closer to the campus after all. What would I know darling?”
“He asked me to marry him.”
“Really? Congratuations. That’s wonderful.”
“Oh Tash it really isn’t. He’s going on about starting a family and I know what that means. I’ll end up like some 1950s’ housewife raising the kids while he’s out at work. It’s a disaster.”
“Then why are you marrying him?”
“Honey, I love him. I just don’t love what I have to give up for him. Essentially everything I am, my independence …”
“Have you told him this?”
“Of course I haven’t. He’d leave me and I don’t think I’d be strong enough without him.”
“Liz stop. You are one of the strongest women I have ever met. You have fought and conquered over bullies, had gender reassignment surgery and got on stages in front of a few hundred people in the local theatre. You would be strong enough without him. The fact you love him makes it somewhat more complicated however.”
“The thing is if he loved me then he wouldn’t put me in this position, would he? But every time I ask myself that question I realise that I don’t care because I want to believe he loves me too and nothing else matters.”
“Been a mother I’m sure is one of the hardest jobs in the world and you are going to be a great mother one day. Heck I might even be. But if you have reservations then you need to tell him.”
Natasha arrived at her flat and thought of the time her mother used to dress her in frilly dresses as a child when she really wanted to stick on a pair of joggers and a t-shirt. She remembered as she got older how the teacher would put on the football for the boys and assumed no girl would be interested in the matches. In so many ways the world had moved on from the dark ages for women and yet so many things still were perceived as going against the grain if you were a woman.
The doorbell rang interrupting her thoughts. When she answered it, it was Anthony.
“I’m back in Ireland.”
“And I want you back.”
“But you said you loved Spain.”
“I guess I didn’t love it as much as you.”
“But you love working in the bars …”
“I lost lots of jobs. I got tired out there.”
“So it had nothing to do with loving me more?”
“It sounded like a good line on the plane. But I do still love you.”
She opened the door to let him in.
“I still love you too.”
“You know I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and I think it might be ok for you to keep up that course …”
“I was planning on doing so Ant.”
“It gets you out, doesn’t it? Takes away the boredom?”
“It’s my path to my career in writing.”
“Well that’s me told, isn’t it?”
“Want a glass of wine?”
Elizabeth sat on the sofa. Mike came in from work.
“We need to talk Mike.”
“Well can’t it wait Lizzy? I promised the boys I’d meet them down the pub for a few …”
“You’ve only got in from work!”
“Well I need to unwind.”
“And I need us to talk.”
“I knew when you went out with that feminist friend of yours this would happen.”
“I’m a feminist too you know.”
Mike sat down beside her.
“What do you want to talk about?”
“It’s this whole marriage thing and us becoming parents …”
“You don’t want it?”
“It’s not that. You and I have been through so much together. During my transition you were there all the way and I remember that. But I don’t want to end up like one of those women who feel like their whole life has passed them by. I love you too much to risk ending up resenting you.”
“It’s hard on me too you know. There’s perceptions of how a man is supposed to act too and I know it’s changed. I see fathers walking with prams but none of my male friends do. Do you think I want to be barely in my future childrens’ lives? But to admit that seems I don’t know.”
“Like a weakness?”
“Something like that.”
“It isn’t a weakness to want to show love and affection to your children. Who cares about society and all their stupid so-called roles? Tash told me tonight that I was one of the strongest women she knew and you are one of the strongest men I know. Society with all it’s flaws is a walk in the park for you and you don’t need to be scared because I’m with you all the way.”
“I love you.”
“I love you too. Now you better head off. They’ll be waiting for you.”
“Maybe I’ll give it a miss.”
“Don’t be silly. I’m not trying to stop your life, I’m only ensuring you don’t stop mine. I might even go with you. Where did I leave my coat?”
“Come with me?”
“Why not? Have your friends never seen a woman in a pub before?”, Elizabeth smiled and Mike smiled back.
Elizabeth put on her coat and they left for the pub.